Colin Firth

Michael Fassbender

What is Casting Couch? It’s where you go to make sure Elijah Wood is adding another new job to his calendar every day. Turns out, today he kept the streak alive, read on… Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender are two of the best actors on the planet Earth; objectively, inarguably. What a coup, then, that director Michael Grandage has landed both of them for his upcoming project, Genius. Based on a book by A. Scott Berg, Genius is a biopic that explores the relationship between Thomas Wolfe (Fassbender) and his editor Max Perkins (Firth). Turns out Wolfe and Perkins were great friends, but the kind who butted heads over everything. Sure, listening to two guys argue over word choice wouldn’t normally sound like a very exciting idea for a movie, but with these two actors on board it absolutely does. Add this one to your to-do list. [Variety]

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Gambit 2012 Movie

In the original Gambit, Michael Caine went up against the great Herbert Lom, but in the updated version, it’s Colin Firth attempting to pull one over on Alan Rickman. It’s a little bit like Ocean’s One, and instead of a dancer played by Shirley MacLaine, we get a Southern stereotype played by Cameron Diaz. Fortunately, everyone drops their pants in the trailer. The movie was written by The Coen Brothers and directed by Michael Hoffman (The Last Station, Soapdish), so it’s definitely got a pedigree. However there’s just something flat about this particular piece of marketing. Something sort of tired and silly without being funny. Check it out for yourself:

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Atom Egoyan‘s upcoming drama based on the real-life tragedy of the West Memphis 3, Devil’s Knot, has been quite slowly accumulating cast members, with news on each new member of the production trickling out over the course of many months. Reese Witherspoon joined the cast in December as Pam Hobbs, the mother of victim Stevie Branch, and Colin Firth signed on in February to play Ron Lax, a private eye who offered his services to the WM3 before their trial in 1993. While the project itself was announced all the way back in August, with such delicate material to cover, perhaps Egoyan is taking his time in picking his cast (what an idea!). Devil’s Knot has now added its third major cast member, and it is indeed a delicate role that is being filled – Deadline Seattle reports that The Killing star Mireille Enos will play Vicki Hutcheson in the film. Those who are familiar with the WM3 tragedy and trials surely know Hutcheson’s name – she became a key witness during the 1993 investigation into the murders of children Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers, a witness who later recanted her statements. The film continues the Golden Globe-nominated actress’ foray into features – she will next be seen in Gangster Squad and World War Z.

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Reel Sex

As we approach Valentine’s Day (yes, it’s just a few days away) I think it’s only fitting that the topic of romance come into play in anticipation of the day meant to celebrate all things feelings. I’m not sure about you, but I have actually never celebrated Valentine’s Day with a loved one not related to me. Instead I spend the day (or week) loading up on conversational hearts, Reese Peanut Butter cups, and a collection of melodramas so depressing I become skeptical that love can actually end in anything but death. Regardless of my tendency to eat my feelings while crying over the tragic love found in Douglas Sirk films, I do enjoy happy love stories and tend to pair the sadder movies with some of my must-have romances. In honor of the big V-Day, I’d like to share my favorite 14 romantic scenes and also open it up the floor to hear your suggestions as well. Here are my concluding seven romantic scenes to last week’s first half of this list. Bring out the smelling salts; you might need them after all these swoons.

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Atom Egoyan’s planned cinematic dramatization of the infamous West Memphis 3 triple homicide story, Devil’s Knot (based on the book by Mara Leveritt of the same name), seems to be trucking along nicely. The first news that came out about this project was that Reese Witherspoon had been cast as Pam Hobbs, the mother of one of the three victims in this grizzly murder tale. That gave a project that’s still looking for funding and distribution some much-needed star power. The newest bit of casting news should help in that regard as well. Deadline Eastleigh is reporting that the 2011 winner for the Best Actor Oscar, Colin Firth, is joining the cast as well. That should put even more attention and even a little bit of prestige on this project, which Deadline says is now pretty close to getting funding and distribution deals in place. Firth joins the cast playing Ron Lax, a private investigator working on the case who did a lot of the initial work that cast doubt on the guilt of the three defendants, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. It was his investigation that found DNA in the ropes tying up one of the victims that implicated not the three teenage boys, but Terry Hobbs, the husband of the woman Witherspoon is playing, in the murders.

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With my review and claim that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a near-masterpiece, I don’t believe it’s possible to get more hyperbolic about this film. Perhaps my fourth viewing, which will inevitably take place soon, could make that happen. Why such grand enthusiasm for a slow-burn “thriller” that’s splitting plenty of folks? Well, go see for yourself. Thankfully for you lot, director Tomas Alfredson‘s film is expanding into 800 theaters today. To further urge you wise readers to go see the film, Focus Features was kind enough to give us these exclusive behind-the-scenes shots of Alfredson shooting the breeze and working with Gary Oldman and John Hurt on set. They’re black and white, meaning they’re all prestigious and such.

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As I wrote in both my review and interview with Gary Oldman and Tomas Alfredson, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is not one’s average spy thriller. The espionage lifestyle we see here is cold, lonely, and harsh. Perhaps the character who represents that the finest is Jim Prideaux, played by Mark Strong. Prideaux, like every other character in the film, descends to worse and worse places, emotionally and mentally, as things progress. The character’s as lonely as can be, and Strong conveys that with every somber and sad look on his face. It’s an interesting contrast to another one of Strong’s performances from this year as Clive in The Guard. A lot of actors discuss how they love variety and go for it — and most genuinely mean it — but Strong seems to be one of the prime examples of someone doing it right. A sympathetic villain, an alien superhero, and an isolated spy make up an eclectic bunch of characters. Here’s what Mark Strong had to say about the catharsis of press, the divisiveness of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and the comfortable amount of takes:

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Tomas Alfredson hasn’t made your typical spy thriller. Not only is that due to the lack of explosions, a fast pace, shootouts, or any other convention the genre tends to call for, but because Alfredson hasn’t really made a “thriller.” Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, in actuality, is a dark ensemble love story about lonely spies. The best character who represents everything the film says is Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong). At first, Jim, a towering field operative, is played with a quiet intensity. He’s calculating and observant like the rest of his spy brethren, but once stripped down of his serious spy mode and once revealed at his most vulnerable, Jim’s an emotionally and psychologically tortured guy. The world of espionage is a vicious place, so says the film. At one point, for great reasons I won’t spoil, Jim ends up going from pivotal spy missions to teaching school children in an instant. For one, how emasculating and damaging that must be. The character goes from a life of importance and violence, and then goes off to teach children. The system chewed him up and spat him out like he was nothing.

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Tomas Alfredson‘s directorial follow-up to the beloved Let the Right One In is, on the outside, appears to be a drastically different film. Taken at face value, Let the Right One In is about a boy following in love with a vampire and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is about the search for a high-powered government mole. Digging deeper, both films are startlingly, but beautifully similar. They’re stories about repressed loners, even down to the smallest of characters and the most intimate of moments. At the center of the lonely bunch is George Smiley, played by Gary Oldman, in an all internal and “it’s-in-the-eyes” performance. Very few spies are as emasculated, cold, and unsuave as Smiley & Co. Unlike the Bonds and Bournes of the spy world, by the end of this film, no one will wish they were these characters of the Circus. A few weeks ago I had a chance to sit down with both Alfredson and Oldman for a quick interview where we discussed the paranoia-causing structure of the film, the gray enigma of George Smiley, and how much politer British spies are.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr hunkers down and braces for award season. He also prepares for an onslaught of celebrity guest stars in New Year’s Eve, which features a poster that looks like a “Friends available to chat” sidebar on Facebook. In order to watch all the movies for the week, Kevin hires the only babysitter available… Jonah Hill. What could possibly go wrong with that? Fortunately this frees him up to see some of the smaller releases, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, W.E. and I Melt with You. And he wraps up the week wondering why everyone needs to talk about him.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Premiere Ticket Giveaway

Heads up, L.A. rejects. Focus Features has hooked us up with a way to send you to the Los Angeles premiere of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch. And by send, we mean give you tickets. You’ll have to furnish your own local transportation to get you to the event. To boot, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is an excellent movie. I can confirm as much first hand, as I caught it a few weeks ago. You’ll get a free, good movie to watch and you may even end up seeing a few famous people, if you’re into that sort of thing. Find out how you can enter to win yourself a pair of tickets after the jump.

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At this point, you’d have to be insane to not trust an Oldboy rumor that comes from Twitch, as those wily boys have single-handedly dropped all the big news when it comes to Spike Lee‘s English-language remake of  Park Chan-wook‘s masterpiece. And this latest piece of casting news that they’re reporting? I’m not afraid to admit that I think it’s interesting and somehow both bold and spot-on. The Twitch-ers are reporting that Colin Firth has been offered the role of Adrian, a role that functions as the Woo-jin part from Park’s film – better known as the primary villain of the film. Firth would face off against Josh Brolin, who has long been attached as the film’s lead (the Oh Dae-su of Lee’s take on the material). While Firth was first known to most American audiences for his fluffier work in films like the Bridget Jones’s Diary films and the ever-charming Love Actually, he’s lately taken on considerably meatier roles, particularly his Oscar-nominated work in A Single Man and his Oscar-winning role in last year’s The King’s Speech. A true villain’s role in Oldboy would be a compelling addition to his resume, and one I’d cut out my own tongue to see.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy hasn’t been seen by very many people here in my home of the U.S. of A, but it premiered at the Venice Film Festival to a whole lot of acclaim, and it’s already been released in the UK where it has been dominating the box office, so it’s probably time for the rest of the world to start getting geared up for its roll out to other countries over the next couple of months. If you haven’t seen the trailer for the movie yet, it’s a Cold War-Era espionage story based off of a book by John le Carré starring Gary Oldman as a spy named George Smiley. The film is directed by Tomas Alfedson (Let the Right One In), and it’s got a supporting cast that boasts names like Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Benedict Cumberbatch, among others. Given all of that pedigree put together in one place, I’m kind of feeling like I don’t even need to see the movie to already be excited for a sequel. And according to a story in The Guardian, one might soon be on its way.

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy comes to us thanks to Tomas Alfredson, who is best known to horror freaks as the director of the original Let the Right One In, which is nervy and terrifying and better than just about any other vampire film made, oh, well, pretty much ever. Now it looks as if Alfredson is trying to do for the spy genre what he did for the vampire genre – basically, make it exciting and interesting again. The loverly Rob Hunter showed us the first trailer for the film back in June, and I proceeded to slobber all over it like I’d never seen a piece of movie marketing before. The film features an all-star cast packed with badasses, including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, John Hurt, and Stephen Graham. It’s essentially as if every single actor you’ve ever wanted to see in a spy flick got together and made that spy flick, but made it much more clever than you would have been able to craft on your own.

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Not only has director Paul Feig’s latest film Bridesmaids been both a critical and financial success, it has also started a lot of talk about women’s place in the film world and how their potential to bring in big box office dollars hasn’t ever been fully exploited. Now that Bridesmaids has pulled in $189 million worldwide, will it mark the beginning of a huge trend where movies aimed at women are given the chance to be released with big budgets and huge marketing campaigns on par with the latest things-blow-up-real-loud movies? Only if Hollywood plays it right and chooses the perfect projects to put out as Bridesmaids follow-ups. And right now they’re playing the situation exactly the same way they always do; by taking a new thing and trying to shoe horn it into something they already know. What does that mean in concrete terms? It means that they are looking for a new film to aim at women, so instead of looking for original scripts that might appeal to women they’re trying to rekindle success from the past. It means they’re going to make a new Bridget Jones movie. And they’re even trying to get Paul Feig to direct it. Do you see the logic here? Bridget Jones’ Diary made a lot of money with women, Paul Feig made a lot of money with women, put them together and you get double money! Do you ever get the feeling that you could be a Hollywood executive, no problem? I […]

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Adult thrillers can be hard to come by these days, and that’s a damn shame. By ‘adult’ of course I’m not referring to films like Basic Instinct but to something more akin to George Clooney’s The American. Say what you will about the pacing (I happened to love it), but The American made no attempt to pander to a younger, ADD-riddled demographic and instead told exactly the story it wanted to tell. Thankfully Clooney and director Anton Corbijn aren’t the only filmmakers interested in such an endeavor. Tomas Alfredson made a big splash on the international scene with his vampire coming of age tale Let the Right One In, itself an adult thriller of sorts, and later this year he returns to the screen with an adaptation of the John le Carré bestseller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It’s a spy thriller set during the waning days of the Cold War and sees an agent pulled from retirement to help ferret out a mole in Britain’s MI6 organization. The cast list reads like a who’s who of British awesome including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt, and Ciarán Hinds. Check out the first trailer below.

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Focus Features International is backing a new dark comedy from director Dante Ariola. This will be Ariola’s first feature, but the project is already interesting to me for three reasons. The first is that Ariola has credits for being a crew member on a bunch of old The Ren and Stimpy Show episodes. That doesn’t really mean anything for this film; I just think that it’s fun. The second and third reasons I’m interested will have direct effects on this new film’s quality, however, because those reasons are Colin Firth and Emily Blunt. Firth is, of course, coming off of his Best Actor win for his starring role in The King’s Speech and Blunt was most recently seen running around with Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau. This new film, which is still untitled, is about a man who fakes his own death and tries to create a new identity for himself. Somewhere in the process he meets a girl, who is in a similar situation, and they go about having some bonding time while breaking into houses and pretending that they are the people who live there. I can only assume that Firth is set to be the man and Blunt the girl. But whichever way the casting goes, I’ll be keeping my eye on how this project develops, because those are a couple of great names to come out of the gate with for your first film, and an interesting premise or these great actors to play around […]

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We reported back in November about Chan-wook Park setting up his first English-language gig with Fox Searchlight, but at the time, the synopsis for Stoker merely alluded to foul play by the hands of a young girl’s uncle who comes to town when her father dies. According to the usually questionable Daily Mail (via Screen Rant), the uncle is definitely a vampire. What’s more, the rag claims that Oscar winner Colin Firth is set to star as the bloodsucker alongside Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska. All of those names are various replacements for Carey Mulligan, Jodie Foster and Johnny Depp (that guy is everywhere) who were all name-dropped last Fall. Park handled vampires with his trademarked insanity in Thirst, so seeing him return to that is bittersweet. The most fascinating prospect is seeing him handle someone else’s material (sense the script for Stoker was written by Wentworth Miller). Park has written for others, but he’s never directed a screenplay that wasn’t his own. That could be a challenge, especially in the face of the curse of brilliant directors making the jump to American cinema. At the very least, it will be interesting to see the auteur try on someone else’s writing for size. Firth in the mean time will be seen in the forthcoming Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and at some point we’ll get to see Park’s iPhone movie in all its glory.

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Editor’s Note: This review originally ran in November 2010, but since The King’s Speech just won the Academy Award for Best Picture, it seemed incredibly relevant. Enjoy. According to the dictionary, to be kingly is to be “stately or splendid, as resembling, suggesting, or befitting a king; regal.” The great movie kings — Henry II, Richard III, Arthur — fit that description, being strong, alpha male types, domineering presences unafraid to exert their authority and make their reign felt. What a surprise, then, to encounter George VI (Colin Firth) in Tom Hooper’s eloquent, emotional The King’s Speech. The current Queen Elizabeth’s father ascended to the throne in 1936, at a time that called out for a forceful leader. With scandal in his wake, spurred by his brother Edward’s abdication, and the European continent on the precipice of war, the new king faced the daunting task of inspiring an empire rife with tumult.

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Academy Awards broadcast. Please join us for our Live-Blog tonight (because we ask nicely), and while you wait for the winners, check out our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. Tonight’s the night! You find out if you will take top prize in your office pool, and, you know, you’ll get to see which fantastic films are most celebrated with little naked statues of gold. If you love the Oscars, hate them, or pretend to hate them while sitting riveted to the broadcast, one thing is clear: tonight is a night to celebrate the best in filmmaking. We love movies. So do you. Tonight we can all celebrate our favorites of 2010 even if they don’t win and even if they weren’t nominated. As for those in the running, they are all beautiful works of art, they’re all winners tonight, they went out on the field and gave 110%…and…yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s get to the winning, right? And the Oscar goes to…

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